[Read our interview with MF Robots & Brand New Heavies co-founder Jan Kincaid here.]
The late ‘80s and early ‘90s had some amazing house/funk bands like Black Box, C&C Music Factory, and The Brand New Heavies. Decades later, dance music isn’t dead, but electronica and pop seem to have claimed the dancefloor. However, two members of The Brand New Heavies, Jan Kincaid and Dawn Joseph, have brought the invigorating sound of ‘90s dance music to present day, forming MF Robots.
Released earlier this month, the duo’s debut album Music For Robots is catchy, but lacks weight. The fourteen tracks are fun and dance-inducing, but ultimately not particularly memorable. Said another way, listening to the record is akin to having a karaoke experience as opposed to a Radio City Music Hall one.
The opening track "Whatcha Sayin'" has the swag of a Bruno Mars jam, but doesn't have the same sonic boom. "The Night is Calling," the first single released from the album, has a Lionel Richie classic "All Night Long" undertone, but it’s too tinny and thin-sounding to be a pop culture standard.
Not all of the tracks are misses though. "Give it Up," "Come on with the Good Thing," "Sweet Harmony," and "Scary Monsters" are groovetastic and genuinely funky. The instrumentation on most of the tracks is solid, but Dawn Joseph's voice, while pleasant enough, isn't captivating. Black Box's "Everybody Everybody" was fire because Martha Wash's voice was strong and soul- from-the-gut. The original Brand New Heavies, which coalesced in 1985, had an acid jazz/funk feel, with the butter-scotched voice N'Dea Davenport heading them up in their earlier incarnations. Their tunes were foot tapping, but Davenport’s vocals gave them the necessary gravitas to make them truly amazing. This new offshoot is only a glimmer of the star power of the original group.
Instead of the Brand New Heavies, Music For Robots unfortunately sounds more like Brand New Lightweights. The album is enjoyable enough as party music, but it’s a bit stiff, and Kincaid and Joseph could benefit from injecting a little more oil into their next outing.
Notable Tracks: “Give It Up” | “Scary Monsters” | “Sweet Harmony”